Political Battles in an Oregonian School District

College Housing Northwest is using a racial equity blog platform to highlight topics and events related to both racial justice and racial equity in Portland and across the state of Oregon. Readers can expect new additions to this blog every two months. 

For this posting, we’d like to bring attention to battles happening across the state in multiple school districts regarding race, racial equity, and larger issues of diversity and inclusion. Specifically, within the Greater Albany Public Schools District (Albany is situated near Corvallis and in between Eugene and Salem). Voters recently elected three new school board members who quickly moved the 5-member board (who all happen to be cisgender men and predominantly white) to terminate the district’s superintendent, Melissa Goff. The three new members, Morse, Wilson, and Nyquist, ran on the platform of getting students back in schools for in-person learning and anti-Covid restrictions, and they were partially funded by conservative political action groups and out-of-district money. The three new members voted to oust her, one member voted against, and the final member abstained. 

Melissa Goff was terminated without cause, without dialogue or public comment, and in her absence (the board requested her not to attend that special session). It’s vital to note that the school board was within its rights to terminate Goff with no cause, however, the operating facts reveal that she only held the position for two years, she had a strong orientation towards equity and collaboration, she received positive performance reviews, her contract was just renewed, she was ousted by a board that lacked diversity in many areas, and the board went on to fill four powerful district positions with white men, including the interim superintendent’s position. The bottom line is that Goff ultimately was targeted due to her stance on public safety regarding Covid-19 and her equity efforts made her clearer in conservative crosshairs. 

Elections have consequences. And racial equity, diversity, and inclusion matters because dominant, powerful voices at the top often make decisions that keep less powerful voices systematically oppressed and disenfranchised. We invite you to learn more about this story with the links below. 





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